Wednesday, March 20, 2013

LA Marathon 2013 (aka First One Down...)

That's right folks. I'm blogging. (I know, I'm scared too.)

This time about something that I have recently accomplished and I'm incredibly proud of. Something that I want all of you to know about, but more than that, something I want to remember.

A friend of ours sent us her race journal from when she ran the Ogden Marathon a few years back, so I thought I would mimic her style because of the great way it informed and entertained. (Thanks Debbie!)

The Night Before

Although looking back it may not have been such a great idea, I spent the day before the marathon at Disneyland with my wonderful wife, mom and sister. My wife had asked to go for her birthday, and since this was the Saturday closest to her birthday, it seemed like the best time.

Side Note: Getting wet on Splash Mountain may have contributed to the blisters now on my feet.

Anywho, the constant walking and standing in line may have tuckered me out a bit too much before the race.

We ate dinner at the Storyteller's Cafe (which is pretty great if you haven't been), I had the spaghetti with meat sauce for the carbs. I also ate the chicken corn chowder, just because - and it was such a good idea. Very delicious meal, ate enough to be full, but not too much to want to puke on the course.

We stayed until around 10pm, we made it home around 11:20pm, and I was in bed by midnight.

The Morning Of

I woke up around 4:00am. Not sure why. Just woke up. I looked around a bit and wondered if my race was starting and if I'd missed it. Saw the time, went back down and snoozed for another two hours. I felt pretty well rested. My wife woke me up around 6:00am to get ready and get going. Most of my stuff was ready and laid out the night before, once I was up I was able to just throw it all on. I scrambled a bit to try and think of anything that I would forget.

Side Note: It was deodorant. Deodorant is the thing I forgot.

We piled into the car and drove to Dodger Stadium. We took the 5 freeway and it was pretty smooth until our exit when we hit total gridlock. This was the marathon traffic and we kind of expected it, but it was still kind of disheartening to wait in traffic for a half-hour. We got through alright and headed to the dropoff area. Once there, it was "drop-all-and-run" situation as I had to get out of the way of other drivers.

The first thing I did was walk straight to the port-o-potties. There was a huge line (even though there were dozens of them in the parking lot). I waited for probably 45 minutes to use the bathroom. The people behind me struck up conversation and it was fun and light which made the wait easier. I tried stretching, but I was too nervous to do it well. Seriously, I had to wait for 45 minutes.

Side Note: I used all of the toilet paper. I feel horrible, but it's just the way it is.


All I had before the race was a banana and some water. Looking back, I probably should have had more. I tried to get to the stadium in time for some of the bagels, but I was too late.

During the race I had a packet of GU chews with me. I had one at mile 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, and 24. During the race there were several water stations, I tried to take advantage of at least every other one, but I missed a few because I felt my stomach was sloshing with too much liquid. At mile 20 they provided Clif shot gel, I made sure to grab a red packet (during my half marathon in Santa Barbara I accidentally grabbed a mocha flavor gel - blech!), it was raspberry flavor so I was pretty relieved. There was Gatorade, orange slices, bananas, and pretzels along the course. I was able to grab a few orange slices and some Gatorade in the later miles. Oh what joy those orange slices were to my mouth!

After the marathon I grabbed a banana and a bagel in the finisher's area. My family brought me Powerade and chocolate milk (my wife's recipe!). For lunch I had a huge Belgian waffle, ham and eggs, and a giant cinnamon roll.

The Race

My initial goal was to finish at or below 4:00.00. That's a pretty fast time for a first marathon, but I felt like my training was leading me to that time. As I'll explain later, I was pretty much on course to complete well under that goal until mile 18.

I'm more proud of being able to finish, let alone get a good PR time for my first marathon. My goal for the next few years is to accomplish my under 4 hour goal. Maybe I'll be able to do it next year?

After I had finished at the bathroom, an announcer got on the P.A. and told everyone to line up. I started to panic - I hadn't lined up with my pace group. How will I be able to get out of the starting line and run with those who will be at my pace?!? I got to the entrance of the starting corral and it was pretty much human cattle. We all just meandered in and lined up were-ever we could. The Star-Spangled Banner was being sung, but I was too focused on my pre-race checks: phone, earbuds, chews, sunglasses, hat - I think I'm ready!

Miles 1 - 6

The huge wave of people launching out of the corral was so slow that it held me back from my goal pace for about a mile. When my RunKeeper app announced the first mile and my pace - about 10:00 min/mile, I felt really upset I didn't get closer to the front of the start line. Thinking back on it now, it was probably appropriate because it gave me a gentle easing into the run without pulling any muscles or wearing myself out.

These miles were very familiar and fairly easy going. The sheer number of supporters along the course was the most amazing thing to see. It helped boost my confidence and strength throughout the whole race. I don't think I could help but smile through 90% of the race.

At mile 3 I found a pace buddy who I was keeping up with, I'll call him "pony-tail" for now. We stayed pretty consistent together. There were a few times when he would drop back or I would drop back and we would look for each other to get back in sync.

Mile 7 - 11

This is when I felt the absolute best in the entire race. I was on pace, I was feeling great, I had my race buddy with me, and there was an incredible view of the city before us.

At mile 8 my race buddy pony-tail dropped back. He stopped at a water station and I didn't want to lose my pace, so I just kept rolling through. I didn't see him at all after that. I wonder if he was able to finish at a good time...

Throughout these miles I was looking forward to seeing my family at Hollywood and Highland - where we said they would stop to cheer me on before heading to the finish. I didn't see them so I figured they would head to the next stop which would be the Los Angeles Temple. My twitter noise kept going off on my phone, so I figured it was her telling me she wouldn't be there. Even though I felt a bit down about not seeing them, it was more important for them to be at the finish line than anywhere else on the course.

We had one of the longest downhills during mile 11. It was so long and so far down that I was just dreading the uphill that we would have to run next.

Mile 12 - 16

This portion of the run is kind of a blur. We were heading through West Hollywood and I remember seeing a few places I recognized. Two people on the sidelines of note were: the cross-dresser in a cheerleader outfit giving us all high-fives, and a guy dressed as the pope blessing us all as we ran.

I listened to music about half the time during the run. I would go about three miles with and then three miles without. I had a pair of sunglasses on through most of the first half, but as we headed into Santa Monica I took them off because it was getting cloudy (also, I didn't want them on in any of my race photos).

Mile 17 - 23

Right at the peak of mile 17, I hit what most people refer to as "The Wall." I couldn't run any longer. I absolutely, positively had to walk. After walking a minute or so, I decided I just needed to keep going.

Side Note: We ran down Rodeo drive. Take that rich people!

At mile 18, when things looked like they were about to get better, disaster struck... I felt a pain in my thighs that I had never felt before. It was so extreme and so painful that I had to completely stop. It was right after "Cheer Alley" where they had tons of cheerleaders cheering us on, but it didn't matter. As soon as I got past them all, I had to stop.

The pain pretty much paralyzed my running. I stretched and massaged. I walked. I couldn't believe this was happening. My first thought was 'what if I can't finish?' Not a very productive thought, but it was there. A feeling of doom.

I started thinking of my family. I thought of seeing their faces at the finish. I thought of passing the Temple and maybe seeing them there. I decided I needed to finish, even if I was walking.

These thoughts got me back up and running, but only in spurts. I had a pain threshold meter that would fill up after running about a mile. Once it hit the threshold, I had to stop and walk a few minutes. I figured that this would be the best way to finish the race if needs be. It kept me going.

Side Note: This is also about the time I decided to text my wife and let her know that my goal time had changed. I was now planning to finish around 4:25.00. I did it as fast as I could and tried to get my phone back in my holder before I lost too much time - very hard to do. I came to find out later that the text I sent threw my wife into a panic that I was injured or something and maybe wasn't the best of ideas.

Passing the Temple was one of the best moments of the race. I prayed throughout the entire stretch of Santa Monica Blvd that I could see the Temple and well after. I prayed for help to keep going, to finish, and to not die.

Around mile 22, someone kept calling my phone. I thought maybe it was my wife and that she was calling to tell me they weren't going to be at the Temple or that she needed information from me (not very likely, but I was in a weird head space). Finally I answered and some guy got on the phone asked for a "Mr. Eric Anderson" - a telemarketer!!! How dare he!? I hung right up and didn't answer anymore, no matter what.

Mile 24 - 26.2

This is when things started to get a lot better. I didn't feel like dying, (bonus), and I was actually able to run a bit more than a mile before stopping to walk and stretch.

All I remember about the road to the finish was thinking about driving down that very road with my wife several months ago looking for yard sales. I thought about how far we've come and how different our lives are now. I was grateful and humbled. I started to feel a calm and determination.

When the finish was in sight, I decided that I wanted to sprint... I just didn't know when I would physically be able. I kept my slower pace up until the very last bit. The bit with all the crowd standing behind the guardrails and where most cameras were on me. I broke out into a full-on sprint that felt like a 5:00 min/mile pace (but was probably closer to 9:00 min/miles or something). I laughed, posed for the cameras and sang along to "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis which was playing as I crossed the finish line.

Side Note: Several of my co-workers - who helped me have the money enough for the entry fee, were on my mind at that moment. We had listened to that song so much in the vault that it was only appropriate it would be playing when I crossed the finish.

Thank you to Sid, Jessica, Brittany, Ben and everyone in the vault who supported me!!!

As the volunteers were presenting us all with finisher medals, I asked "Am I still running?" which got a bit of a laugh. The long walk to the family reunion area had begun. I grabbed everything I possibly could from the swag tables and as much food as I could carry.

I had finished!!!

My Times

Place (AgeGroup)664
Place (Gender)4184
Place (Overall)5601
LocationNet TimeClock TimePacePace BetweenTime of Day
10K Split54:4059:078:488:25:45
20K Split1:50:071:54:338:518:559:21:11
30K Split2:57:353:02:029:3210:5210:28:40
40K Split4:13:344:18:0010:1212:1411:44:39